Level 5 networks this month begins shipping EtherFabric, an Ethernet-based high-performance interconnect aimed at enterprise datacenters and HPC (high performance compute) clusters. EtherFabric promises to improve CPU efficiency, reduce latency, and boost throughput between servers in transaction-oriented or compute-intensive environments while maintaining backward compatibility with existing Ethernet infrastructure.
Level 5 CEO Dan Karr claimed that, compared to conventional Ethernet, EtherFabric more than doubles CPU efficiency, resulting in twice the resources for crunching numbers or serving clients.
Karr touted a number of advantages over competing technologies InfiniBand and iWarp, as well as proprietary cluster interconnects from Myrinet and Quadrics. Unlike these alternatives, EtherFabric does not require new protocols, changes to applications, or upgrading at both ends of the connection. Its compatibility with TCP/IP and Ethernet makes it easier to implement and less costly.
David Passmore, research director at Burton Group, agrees that native Ethernet support is key, especially to enterprise customers. “If you want to do load balancing or simply support large numbers of TCP/IP Web connections, being able to support native Ethernet is essential,” he said.